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Tell them: 'Had Allah so willed, I would not have recited the Qur'an to you, nor would Allah

have informed you of it. I have spent a lifetime among you before this. Do you, then, not use your
reason? (10:16)

This is indeed a very weighty argument in refutation of the unbelievers' allegation that the
Prophet (peace be on him) had himself authored the Qur'an and subsequently ascribed it to God.
So far as other arguments are concerned, they might be considered as somewhat remote. But the
argument based on the life and character of the Prophet (peace be on him) was particularly
weighty since the Makkans were thoroughly familiar with the whole of his life.

Before his designation as a Prophet, he had spent a full forty years in their midst. He was born in
their city. They had observed his childhood, and then his youth, and it was in their city that he
had reached his middle age. He had also had a variety of dealings with them. He had social
interaction, business transactions, matrimonial ties, and relationships of every conceivable nature
with his people so that no aspect of his life was hidden from their view. Could there be a more
powerful testimony to the truth of his claim to prophet hood than his blameless life and
character?

Two things about the life of the Prophet (peace be on him) were especially clear and were quite
well known to all Makkans. First, that during the forty years of his life before his designation as
a Prophet, he had received no instruction from, or even enjoyed the company of learned people
which could have served as the source of the ideas which began to flow, as would a stream, from
his lips as soon as he claimed, at the age of forty, that he had been designated as a Prophet.
Before that he was never seen to have been concerned with the problems, or to have discussed
the subjects, or to have expressed the ideas which frequently recur in the Qur'an. In fact none of
his closest friends and relatives had foreseen in his pre-Prophetic life any signs indicative of the
great message which he suddenly started to preach at the age of forty. These pieces of evidence,
taken together, provide incontrovertible evidence that the Qur'an is not a product of the Prophet's
mind; that it had come to the Prophet (peace be on him) from without. For no human being can
produce something for which traces of growth and evolution are not found in the earlier period of
his life.

This explains the fact that when some of the more crafty Makkan unbelievers realized the sheer
absurdity of their allegation that the Prophet (peace be on him) was the author of the Qur'an, they
chose to propagate that there must be some other person who had taught the Prophet (peace be
on him) the Qur'an. Such a statement, however, was even more preposterous since they failed to
convincingly point out who that other person was who was the true source of the Qur'an. Even
leaving aside Makka, the fact is that there was not a single person throughout the length and
breadth of Arabia who possessed the competence needed for the authorship of the Qur'an. Had
such an extraordinary person existed, how could he have remained hidden from the sight of
others?

Second, the pre-Prophetic life of Muhammad (peace be on him) clearly shows him to be a man
of exceptionally high moral character for there was not the least trace of any evil - whether lies,
deceit, vile cunning or trickery. On the contrary, all those who came into contact with the
Prophet (peace be on him) were impressed by him as a person of flawless character, as one
utterly truthful and trustworthy. An illustration in point is the incident related in connection with
the re-building of the Ka'bah five years before his designation as a Prophet. There was a serious
dispute between the various families of the Quraysh on the question as to who should have the
privilege of placing the Black Stone in its place in the edifice of the Ka'bah, In order to reach an
amicable accord, they resolved that they would abide by the ruling given by the first person who
entered the Ka'bah the following day. The next day people saw it was the Prophet (peace be on
him) who was the first to enter. They exclaimed:

'Here is a trustworthy man (amin). We agree [to follow his ruling]. He is Muhammad.' (Ibn Sa'd,
al-Tabaqat, vol. 1, p. 146 - Ed.)
Thus, before designating Muhammad (peace be on him) as a Prophet, God had the whole body of
the Quraysh testify to his trustworthiness. No room was left, therefore, for suspecting that he
who had never resorted to lying or deceit throughout his life would suddenly resort to fabricating
a gigantic lie; that he would first compose something, then deny that it was his work, and would
then ascribe it to God.

In view of the above, God directs the Prophet (peace be on him) to ask the unbelievers to use
their brains before leveling such a stupid allegation against him. For the Prophet (peace be on
him) was after all no stranger to them; he had spent virtually a whole lifetime in their midst. In
view of the well-known and uniformly high level of his conduct and character, how could it even
be conceived that he would falsely ascribe the Qur'an to God if God had not actually revealed it
to him. (For further elaboration see al-Qasas 28, n. 109.)

(O Prophet,) you did not read any book before this, nor did you write any with your hand. If it
were so, the worshippers of falsehood could have been involved in doubt. (29:48)

This is the same argument that has already been given in Surahs Yunus and Qasas as a proof of
the Holy Prophet's Prophethood. The basis of the argument in this verse is that the Holy Prophet
was unlettered. His compatriots and his kinsmen among whom he had spent his whole life, from
birth to old age, knew fully well that he had never read a book nor ever handled a pen. Presenting
this actual fact Allah says: "This is a proof of the fact that the vast and deep knowledge of the
teachings of the Divine Books, of the stories of the former Prophets, of the beliefs of the various
religions and creeds, of the histories of the ancient nations, and the questions of social and moral
and economic life, which is being presented through this ulettered, illiterate man could not have
been attained by him through any means but Revelation. If he had been able to read and write
and the people had seen him reading books and undertaking serious studies, the worshippers of
falsehood could have had some basis for their doubts, that he had acquired the knowledge not
through Revelation but through study and reading. But the fact of his being absolutely illiterate
has left no basis whatever for any such doubt. Therefore, there can be no ground, except sheer
stubbornness, which can be regarded as rational in any degree for denying his Prophet hood."

These are, in fact, clear Signs in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge; and none
deny Our Revelations except the wicked. (29:49)

That is, "The presentation of a Book like the Qur'an by an unlettered person, and the
manifestation by him, all of a sudden, of extraordinary qualities of character while nobody ever
noticed him making any preparation for these previously, are in fact the clearest Signs which
serve as pointers to his Prophet hood for those who are possessed of knowledge and wisdom. " If
one reviews the life-story of any great historical personage, one can always discover the factors
in his environment, which moulded his personality and prepared him for the excellences and
qualities that emanated from him in life. There always exists a clear relationship between his
environment and the component aspects of his personality. But no source whatever can be
discovered in his environment of the wonderful qualities and excellences that the Holy Prophet
Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him) displayed. In his case, neither in the contemporary
Arab society nor in the society of the neighboring countries with which Arabia had any relations
can one discover those factors which could have any remote relationship with the component
aspects of the Holy Prophet's personality. This is the reality on whose basis it has been asserted
here that the Holy Prophet Muhammad's personality is not one Sign but a collection of many
clear Signs. An ignorant person may not see any of these Signs but those who are possessed of
knowledge have become convinced in their hearts by seeing these Signs that he is most certainly
a true Prophet of Allah.

Is this (Sign) not enough for these people that We have sent down to you the Book, which is
recited to them? Indeed, there is mercy in it and admonition for those who believe. (29:51)

That is, "A Book like the Qur'an has been sent down to you in spite of your being unlettered. Is it
not by itself a great miracle which should convince the people of your Prophet hood? Do they yet
need another miracle after this? The other miracles were the miracles for those who witnessed
them. But this miracle is ever present in front of them. It is being recited before them almost
daily; they can witness it as and when they like. Even after such an assertion and argument by
the Qur'an the audacity of those who try to prove that the Holy Prophet was literate is
astonishing. The fact, however, is that the Qur'an here has presented in clear terms the Holy
Prophet's being illiterate as a strong proof of his Prophet hood.

The traditions which lend support to the claim that the Holy Prophet could read and write, or had
learnt reading and writing later in life, stand rejected at first glance, for no tradition opposed to
the Qur'an can be acceptable. Then these traditions in themselves are too weak to become the
basis for an argument. One of these is a tradition from Bukhari that when the peace treaty of
Hudaibiya was being written down, the representative of the disbelievers of Makkah objected to
the word Rasul Allah being added to the name of the Holy Prophet. At this the Holy Prophet
ordered the writer (Hadrat `Ali) to cross out the word Rasul-Allah and write Muhammad bin
'Abdullah instead. Hadrat `Ali refused to cross out Rasul-Allah. Then the Holy Prophet took it in
his own hand, struck out the word himself and wrote Muhammad bin `Abdullah. But this
tradition from Bara' bin `Azib appears at four places in Bukhari and at two places in Muslim and
everywhere in different words:

(1)At one place in Bukhari (Kitab-us-S, ulh) the words of this tradition are to the effect: "The
Holy Prophet told Hadrat `Ali to strike out the words. He submitted that he could not do that. At
last, the Holy Prophet crossed them out with his own hand."

(2) In the same book the second tradition is to the effect: "Then he (the Holy Prophet) said to
`Ali: Cross out Rasul-Allah. He said: By God, I shall never cross out your name. At last, the
Holy Prophet took the document and wrote: This is the treaty concluded by Muhammad bin
`Abdullah."

(3) The third tradition, again from Bara' bin `Azib is found in Kitab-ul-Jizia in Bukhari to the
effect: "The Holy Prophet himself could not write. He said to `Ali: Cross out Rasul-Allah. He
submitted: By God, I shall never cross out these words. At this, the Holy Prophet said: Show me
the place where these words arc written. He showed him the place, and the Holy Prophet crossed
out the words with his own hand."

(4) The fourth tradition is in Bukhari's Kitab-ul-Maghazi to the effect: "So the Holy Prophet took
the document although he did not know writing, and he wrote: This is the treaty concluded by
Muhammad bin `Abdullah."

(5) Again from Bara' bin `Azib there is a tradition in Muslim (Kitab-ul-Jihad) saying that on
Hadrat `Ali's refusal the Holy Prophet himself wiped off the words Rasul-Allah. "

(6) The second tradition from him in the same book says, "The Holy Prophet said to `Ali: Show
me where the word Rasul Allah is written. Hadrat `Ali showed him the place, and he wiped it off
and wrote Ibn `Abdullah.

The disparity in the traditions clearly indicates that the intermediary reporters have not reported
the words of Hadrat Bara' bin `Azib (may Allah be pleased with him) accurately. Therefore, none
of these reports can be held as perfectly reliable so that it could be said with certainty that the
Holy Prophet had written the words "Muhammad bin `Abdullah with his own hand. Probably
when Hadrat 'Ali, refused to wipe off the word Rasul-Allah, the Holy Prophet might have
himself wiped it off after finding, out the place where it was written, and then might have got the
word Ibn `Abdullah substituted by him or by some other writer. Other traditions show that there
were two writers who were writing down the peace treaty; Hadrat `Ali and Muhammad bin
Maslamah (Fath al-Bari, Vol. 5, p. 217).

Therefore, it is not impossible that what one writer did not do was got done by the other writer.
However, if the Holy Prophet actually wrote his name with his own hand, there are plenty
instances of this in the world. The illiterate people learn to write their own name although they
cannot read or write anything else.

The other tradition, on whose basis it has been claimed that the Holy Prophet was literate, has
been reported by Ibn Abi Shaibah and `Umar bin Shabbah from Mujahid. It says: "The Holy
Prophet had learnt reading and writing before his death." But in the first place, it is a weak
tradition on account of its links as said by Hafiz Ibn Kathir: "It is weak: it has no basis."
Secondly, it is weak otherwise also, for if the Holy Prophet had really learnt reading and writing
later in life, it would have become a well known fact. Many of the Companions would have
reported it, and it would also have been known from which person (or persons) he had learnt this.
But no one except one man, 'Aun bin 'Abdullah, from whom Mujahid heard this, has reported it.
And this 'Aun was not even a Companion,, but a follower of the Companions, who does not at all
tell from which Companion (or Companions) he got this information. Evidently, on the basis of
such weak traditions nothing which contradicts well known facts can become acceptable.

The revelation of this Book is, without any doubt, a great bounty of Allah, and it contains great
admonitions for the people. But only those people can benefit by it, who believe in it.

You never hoped that the Book would be sent down to you. Only through your Lord's mercy (has
it been sent own to you)… (28:86)

This thing is being presented as a proof of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's Prophethood. Just as
the Prophet Moses was wholly unaware that he was going to be appointed a Prophet, and sent on
a grand mission-when he had never even expected or wished for such a thing, but had been
suddenly called upon while on a journey and made a Prophet and assigned a mission which had
no relevance with his previous life-so was precisely the case with the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(may Allah's peace be upon him).

The people of Makkah knew full well what kind of life he was leading till a day before the day
when he came down from the Cave of Hira' with the message of Prophet hood. They were fully
aware of his occupations, of the topics of his conversation, of the nature of his interests and
activities. No doubt it was a life which was an embodiment of truth, honesty and righteousness, a
model of nobility, peacefulness, fulfillment of obligations and rights of others and of the service
to humanity, but there was nothing in it which could give somebody any idea that the righteous
man was going to make a claim to Prophet hood the next day. There was no one among his most
intimate friends and relations and neighbors, who could say that he had already been preparing to
become a Prophet. No one had ever heard a word on the themes and problems and topics from
him, which became the subject of his daily conversation all of a sudden after the revolutionary
moment in the Cave of Hira'. No one had heard him employing the kind of diction and words and
terms, which the people started hearing from him in the shape of the Qur'an. He had never stood
up for preaching, had never given a message or started a movement, and none of his activities
had ever indicated that he was anxious to undertake a programme for the solution of the social
problems or for religious or moral reformation.

Till a day before this revolutionary moment he was leading the life of a trader, who earns his
living by fair and lawful means, who lives a happy life with his family, receives his guests, helps
the poor and treats his relatives well, and at times retires from society into seclusion for the sake
of worship. For such a person it would be a great change if he started making, all of a sudden,
world-moving orations, preaching a revolutionary message, producing a sublime literature and
propounding an enduring philosophy of life and a profound system of thought and morality and
social life.

For psychologically too, such a change is not possible through any kind of preparation and
conscious effort. Any such effort and preparation, in any case, has to pass through certain
evolutionary stages, which cannot remain hidden from the people among whom a person is
passing his life. Had the Holy Prophet's life passed through any such stages of gradual
development, hundreds of the people in Makkah would have come out to say, "Did we not tell
you beforehand that this man would one day make a tall claim?" But history bears evidence that
no one in Makkah ever made such an objection although the disbelievers of Makkah raised all
sorts of other objections against the Holy Prophet.

Then another thing: the Holy Prophet himself never wished for or expected or awaited his
appointment to prophet hood, but he came across this experience all of a sudden quite
unexpectedly. This is supported by the event that has been reported in the Traditions in
connection with the beginning of Revelation. After his first meeting with the Angel Gabriel and
the revelation of the initial verses of Surah Al-`Alaq he rushes back home from Hira' trembling
with fear, and says to his wife, "Cover me with a cloak! Cover me with a cloak!" After a while
when he recovers a little from the state of anxiety, he relates what he had experienced to his wife
and says, "I feel there is danger to my life!" She responds, "No, never! Allah will never bring
you to grief: you render the rights of your kindred, you support the indigent, help the poor, treat
your guests well, and are ever ready to contribute to a good cause."Then she takes him to Waraqa
bin Naufal, who was her cousin and a righteous and knowledgeable person from among the
people of the Book. Hearing from him what had happened, Waraqa says without any hesitation,
"The one who came to you is the same Namus (the specially appointed Divine Messenger), who
used to come to Moses. I wish I were a young man and could live till the time when your people
will expel you." The Holy Prophet asks, "Will my people expel me?" He replies, "Yes; no one
has passed before, who brought same thing that you have brought, and his people did not turn
hostile to him.”

This whole event depicts the state which a simple man will naturally undergo when he is
confronted unexpectedly by a most extraordinary experience all of a sudden. If the Holy Prophet
had already been anxious to become a prophet and thinking that a man like him ought to be a
prophet, and had been meditating and straining his mind and awaiting the arrival of an angel with
a message, he would have been filled with delight at the experience in the Cave, and descending
from the mountain would have gone straight before his people and proclaimed Prophet hood.
But, quite to the contrary, he is confounded at what he had seen, reaches home trembling and lies
in bed fully covered up. When he is composed a little, he tells his wife quietly what had
happened in the solitude of the Cave, and expresses feelings of anxiety and insecurity. How
different is this state from the state of a candidate for prophet hood!

Then, who can be better aware of the husband's life, his ambitions and thoughts, than the wife? If
she had perceived before-hand that the husband was a candidate for prophet hood and had been
anxiously awaiting the arrival of the angel, her reply would have been different from what
Hadrat Khadijah said. She would have answered, "Dear husband! Why are you so agitated? You
have got what you have been longing since long. Now, flourish as a saint: I too shall get ready
for collecting gifts and offerings." But on the basis of what she had seen of her husband during
her 15-year-long companionship, she did not take more than a moment to understand that Satan
could not have come to a righteous and selfless man like him, nor could Allah have put him to a
severe test. Therefore, whatever he had seen was the very truth and reality. The same is also true
in the case of Waraqa bin Naufal. He was not an outsider, but a member of the Holy Prophet's
own clan and a brother-in-law by a close relationship. Then being a knowledgeable Christian he
could discriminate the prophet hood and book and revelation from fabrication and fraud. Being
the Holy Prophet's senior by many years his whole life since childhood had been spent before
him. Therefore, when he heard what the Holy Prophet had to say about his experience in the
Cave, he at once said that it was most surely the same Angel who used to bring Divine messages
to the Prophet Moses. For in this case also precisely the same thing had happened as in the case
of the Prophet Moses. He also was a pure and righteous person, simple in thought and without
any preconceived notions about prophet hood; he also had experienced the same thing
unexpectedly in full consciousness similarly. Therefore, without the least hesitation, he was led
to the firm conclusion that there was no self-deception or satanic insinuation involved but
whatever the truthful man had seen, without any will or desire on his own part, was in fact, an
experience of the Reality. This is such a clear proof of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's Prophet
hood that a realistic person can hardly deny it.
That is why it has been presented as a proof of Prophet hood at several places in the Qur'an. For
example, in Surah Yunus it has been said:

"O Prophet, say to them: Had Allah willed so, I would never have recited this Qur'an to you, nor
would He have told you anything (about its existence). I have already lived a lifetime among you
before its revelation. Do you not use common sense?" (v. 16)

And in Surah Ash-Shura it has been said:

"O Prophet, you did not know at all what was the Book and what was the Faith but We made that
Revelation a light by which We show the way to any of Our servants We will." (v. 52)